The Courage to Live From Your Heart-Center: Guest Post by Terilyn Wyre

This year, we are asking conference presenters to share with us what the conference theme, “The Courage to Live From Your Heart-Center” means to them.  First up, the incredible, loving and inspiring Seattle based yogi, Terilyn Wyre!  Be careful, you might want a box of tissues neaby –  the beauty of this writing brought us to tears.

We can fall in love in an instant; utterly, completely, unequivocally in love. It takes but a moment for our hearts to open like a flower yearning for the kiss of sunlight and morning dew. We fall in love with our partner, our children, our friends, our pets, the sight of the sun setting over the water, the forest, the mountains, a piece of art, our favorite song. Falling in love is easy, natural, effortless even. It seems like the very thing we were born to do. Often we remember these moments as rare, monumental and fleeting. What we are witnessing in these magical moments is a reflection of the Beloved who resides within us. In essence, our outer environment is mirroring back to us our huge capacity to love and be loved. As tempting as it is to think we are falling in love with someone because they are so fabulous (which they very well may be) a deeper truth might be that our love interest is willing to hold space for us to dive into the unending well of love within our own heart.

So you might be thinking “well sure I’ve felt moments of deep love but it not a feeling that lasts, it shifts and changes and sometimes ends. How do I cultivate a feeling of open heartedness that guides my choices, my path, my life, when the risk of heartbreak seems inevitable? Won’t that hurt, a lot?” I’ve asked myself this question many times, especially when I see cruelty and tragedy in the world. Yes, you will experience pain, loss, heartbreak and unimaginable grief.

This is where courage comes in: to love without story, conditions or expectations; to love simply because it makes you come alive to do so; to love even in the face of disrespect, disregard and dismissal. This is the true work of a heart centered warrior. I’m not suggesting it’s the easy path, but rather one of integrity, authenticity and vulnerability.

I have found these three things are essential in living from the heart: forgiveness,  self-compassion and self-love. The courage comes in our willingness to look at our shadow self and all our wounds and old stories. When we are brave enough to bring the light of awareness to all the parts of ourselves that need healing we can begin the process of true forgiveness of ourselves and others which in time becomes the balm for our aching hearts. Forgiveness allows us to have compassion for our perceived failures and mistakes and love ourselves for all of who we are, the shiny side as well as the side we’d rather not look at or expose to another. When we experience this for ourselves first we can see our divine innocence and then eventually the divine innocence in others who deserve that same love, compassion, and forgiveness.

In every religion or mysticism there seems to be a yearning for God; the Divine, Beloved. We are yearning for the One who has never left us. When we recognize as truth that love is ours and the Beloved is within us, we lose some of our fears as we can never truly lose love or be abandoned.

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In every moment we have an opportunity to contract in fear or expand in love, the choice is ours. It takes practice to trust the expansion of our hearts. Your very first down dog may have felt awkward or difficult but in time felt ease-full and familiar, so too is true of learning to live from your heart. The more we yoke ourselves back to love again and again, the less we shut down emotionally. We learn to navigate this world with grace and sovereignty and a steadfast willingness to open our hearts to each other and every moment of this wild life.

For me, the choice is clear: With my yoga practice as my medicine/ my elixir for the strength and courage it takes to live from my heart, I will continue to walk this path as a warrior of love and welcome home all the wounded parts of myself with a renewed sense of belonging. My prayer for you is to do the same.

Earthing – What It Means to Touch Mother Earth

Earthing – What It Means to Touch Mother Earth
By Nicole Dawn Armstrong, Guest Blogger

Jungle MudbathWhen was the last time you sat on our Earth and touched her with your bare hands? I’m not referring to simply leaning on the ground, perhaps while watching a baseball game, or enjoying a picnic on a blanket with friends. I am referring to touching our Earth, recognizing her as a living, breathing being, and connecting with her through your bare hands or feet in an awake, aware moment. Reconnecting with the Earth through direct touch is called Earthing. It’s a timeless practice of living in contact with the Earth’s natural electrical surface charge – being grounded – and it’s powerful. Being grounded allows the body to naturally discharge and prevent build-up of chronic inflammation. In this way, Earthing addresses the most pressing health concern to date in the modern world.

Sure, it sounds simple. But when you make the distinction as to whether a touch given to Mother Earth was mindful and direct – or not, you realize whether an energy exchange took place in that moment. In fact, throughout most of human history, we were connected to Mother Earth. We slept and walked barefoot on the ground. We gathered roots, berries, and plants outdoors with our bare hands and scooped up water directly from streams and lakes.

However, enter modern times. We now wear nonconductive shoes with synthetic soles, walk over carpeted floors, work in high rise towers and buildings, drive around in cars with nonconductive rubber tires, and sleep in elevated beds. We rarely go outside barefoot anymore. We rarely touch rain from the sky, feel natural water on our feet or sand between our toes. In fact, outside of taking vacation once or twice a year, we rarely reconnect. We’ve become disconnected from our Earth and the charge building within our body continues to increase right alongside the mainstream proliferation of chronic inflammatory diseases new to the modern world.

Perhaps as we’ve become disconnected from the Earth, we’ve also become disconnected from our own bodies. The sense of disconnection can result in a loss of compassion – not only for the Earth but also for ourselves. As Jack Kornfield, renowned mindfulness and vipassana teacher wrote, “From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, compassion is natural. It derives from our interconnection, which Buddhism calls “interdependence.” This can be readily seen in the physical world. In the womb, every child is interdependent with its mother’s body. If either of them is sick, the other is affected. In the same way we are interdependent with the body of the earth. The minerals of the soil make up our wheat and bones, the storm clouds become our drinks and our blood, the oxygen from the trees and forests breathe with us, interdependent with our own life. The more consciously we realize this shared destiny, the more compassion arises for the earth itself.”

For something that sounds so simple and dismissive as leaning down to touch the Earth, it may actually be one of our most powerful gestures as it grounds and discharges our body and opens up our being compassionately not only to the Earth, but to ourselves.

Machu PicchuRecall moments when you’ve felt powerfully connected to Mother Earth. Some Earthing moments that resonate most memorably with me are the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Earth during my childhood in rural Montana. I recall the scent of sagebrush on the open prairie, pine mountain forests, and steaming sulfur from the geothermal waters near Yellowstone. I recall the feeling of gushy mud between my toes and joy as I ran barefoot through the pigpens and all around the farm. I can still smell the musty scents of old saddle leather and hot animal sweat from horseback riding across long open fields. These memories of being outdoors and connected with Mother Earth are vivid and everlasting as moments when I felt gentle, alive, calm, secure and grounded.

Most recently, I recall the connected time I spent Earthing in the Amazon jungle. During this journey, I walked barefoot along the shores of the great river, practiced yoga in the sun while soaking in mud, and absorbed moments of meditation among the symphony of sounds resonating throughout the rainforest. Connected, exhilarated, gentle, alive, calm, and yes – grounded. Earthing, it’s a powerful energetic shift we all need.

Washington Lake ShoreFacing forward, I practice earthing daily here at home in Seattle. Some days my daily reconnection with Mother Earth takes place on a sandy beach, after a hike in a local park, or with yoga along a lakeshore. However, most days it’s simply taking work breaks throughout the day to step outside, soak in the springtime sun, and press my press my bare feet onto the soil. If I pay close enough attention, I can feel the energetic tingle of Mother Earth helping me rebalance my energy.

What does your daily practice of reconnecting to Mother Earth look like?

How does it make you feel?

Can you recall a moment when you were so powerfully connected to the Earth that the smallest details of that moment will always remain fresh in your mind?

These feelings of calm groundedness, awake, aware security and immense peacefulness are our birthright as living beings on this Earth. I encourage you to be mindful and curious about how your connection – or lack thereof – with Mother Earth affects you. If you’ve been inflamed, scattered, or constantly craving a sense of grounding, perhaps this is your wake up call to connect back to your Earth Mother.

You are worth feeling connected, alive, and securely grounded here in your divine purpose on this planet. Mother Earth is always present and available for you, at every moment of the day, whenever you need to renew that sense of connectedness. It involves simply removing your shoes, opening your hands, and touching her mindfully with a welcoming present heart.

Earthing – it’s time to reconnect and reawaken. You’re always here, right at home.

Ready to experience powerful Earthing? Join me May 18-22nd for five powerful days to experiencing earthing in Utah next month.  I have partnered with Yoga In The Wild for a Yoga and Canyoneering Retreat in breathtaking outdoor vistas. This retreat was recently named by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the Most Affordable Yoga Retreats in 2016! You will experience a grounding and rejuvenating immersion in one of our nation’s most sacred landscapes including daily outdoor yoga and meditation practices, as well as canyoneering adventures and nighttime campfires under the stars. Side effects may include grounding, peacefulness, and connected memories to last a lifetime. I hope you’ll join me!

For more information, check out: http://www.getinthewild.com/guided-trips/yoga-in-the-wild/ Early bird rates of $995 are good until April 30th.

For more information about the researched health benefits of Earthing, check out book: Ober, Clinton, and Sinatra, MD, Stephen T., and Zucker, Martin. Earthing, The most important health discovery ever!. Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2014.

7 Ways to Feed Your Chakras through Food

7 Ways to Feed Your Chakras through Food
If we always do what we’ve always done–we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten.” -Anonymous

Have you ever gone on a diet, only to find yourself back in your old eating habits a short time later? The issue might lie in how you approach not only the diet, but the concept of food in general.

“Going on a diet” implies a temporary regimen that we’ll eventually stop. If we continue to see food as a static diet, and not in the broader sense of being a dynamic tool for personal growth, chances are we won’t be led to our inner potential through eating.

Therefore, I am going to challenge you to open your vision of “food” to a larger concept of “nourishment of the whole self,” which I believe will give you more sustainable changes and a renewed, fresh relationship with something as common as eating.

Our relationship with food can be broken down into seven chakras. Discover which areas of nourishment may be particularly relevant to you by doing the Spectrum Quiz (http://whole-detox.com/the-spectrum-quiz/) and then reading more below:

1. Food is grounding. Most people have a grounding relationship with food – it provides a way to be fully present in the body. It gives us the energy we need to exist. Our body provides us with the foundation for our entire being to survive in the physical world. How do you connect with your body and listen deeply for its wise messages? Are you tapped into your instinct? How do you create stability in your everyday life so you feel safe enough to make choices that serve your bodily needs?

2. Food is emotion. We have strong feelings about food – what to eat, when to eat, how to eat. Our eating becomes who we are, and, as a result, it can stimulate a wide range of feelings. Sometimes our feelings are trapped within and when we don’t express them, we turn to our favorite foods for comfort. How can you take the concept of “flow” into your everyday creativity, allowing your emotions to be fluid and free? Are there ways that you invite a healthy dance between emotions and eating that satisfies YOU, not your cravings?

3. Food is transformation. Every act of eating represents one of transformation. We take in a food and turn it into our being. Often when we eat, we are not just taking in the food – we may find ourselves taking in the clutter in our mind and in our environment, including the conversations, the hustle-bustle of the every day, and all the tasks we have yet to do. How can you bring more concentrated, fiery transformation into your eating so you can assimilate what is surrounding you in a balanced manner?

4. Food is love. Our heart connects to the eating experience through a shared meal with others or giving and/or receiving food. If we feel moved, we may prepare foods for others or surprise them with a gift of food. The holidays are a perfect time to share food with family and friends. When we make foods with love, we are extending the outreach of our heart and we may get gratitude in return. How can you find even more self-love by serving yourself and others by making nourishing, healthy choices that resonate with your heart?

5. Food is our truth. Speaking our voice about what we eat allows us to be authentically who we are. When we are presented with an array of choices, we have the ability to choose for our highest good and our best self. If we make these congruent choices, we are consistent on our path. How many times are you able to find your voice to speak what is on your heart? Are you open to making choices that will surrender you to an authentic life? By expressing your unique eating truths, you may open up to an expanse of opportunity!

6. Food is mood. What we eat can impact our overall mood, and our mood can drive our food choices. How do you stay conscious of this rhythmic flow? Are you tuned in to your internal sense of intuition, which can allow you to know what food is good for the type of mood you want to create? We contain all of the wisdom we need when it comes to knowing what is beneficial for us. The goal is to go within to seek this internal wisdom that can transition us from intellect to insight we can harness in every moment. If you’re curious about what science has told us about the relationship between food and mood, check out this blog.

7. Food is connection. Every bite of food we take represents the web of nature – from the field to the farmer to all the interactions that food had with the natural elements of animals, sun, rainbows, clouds, stars, and moon, and to all of the hands it passed through to make its way onto the fork. There is something special about the act of eating; it is required for our bodily survival and, at the same time, it gives us a pathway to the soul of seeing outside of the constraints of our body and into the eternal landscape of connection. How can you get more connection in that next bite of food? If you can stay in the mindset of every meal being a miracle, you are on your way to filling yourself with the divine nourishment of connection.

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Like a kaleidoscope that turns to reveal new patterns and colors, food is an everyday rainbow experience of nourishing the whole self. For an in-depth guide to eating to enhance your chakras, look for my new book Whole Detox, coming in March! In the meantime, see what new themes emerge for you in 2016 – be ready to transform through the spectrum of discovery!


Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally-recognized lifestyle medicine expert, creative visionary, and author of five books. Her twenty years of experience in the nutrition and functional medicine fields led her to develop an integrated, “whole self” approach to nutrition and detox called Food & Spirit, which is the practice of understanding one’s eating and living through the seven core symbolic themes. Her passion is teaching a whole-self approach to nourishment and bridging the gaps between science, spirituality, and art in medicine. Her new book, Whole Detox, comes out on March 8th. Learn more about the book and Whole Detox program at whole-detox.com.

Show Me Your Plate, I’ll Tell You Who You Are

Show Me Your Plate, I’ll Tell You Who You Are
By Deanna Minich, Conference Presenter

Do you ever try to figure people out? Do you wonder about the depths of who someone really is when you first meet them? Throughout time, there have been countless methods, whether by reading stars, palms, faces, or minds, that have lifted the veil revealing the inner landscape of a person.

Arranged Vegetables Creating a Face --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisPerhaps all you need to do is have a meal with them to know more about them.  After all, research shows that we make more than 200 decisions about food every day. As a result, our relationship with eating says something rather significant about how we choose to live our lives. This idea may not be far-fetched considering that we have long been told “you are what you eat.”

Would you like to peel back the onion layers of your next date, business contact, or distant family member? Go out to eat and watch what they order. Here are some general guidelines on how to gauge personality based on food choices – see if any of these descriptions hold true for your dinner dates-or yourself!

Steak-and-Potatoes Sticklers: The high protein of the meat and the lack of brightly-colored palette suggest that these folks are rather “down to earth.” For them to be satisfied, they need to be financially stable and secure with a job, home, and family. You can typically trust these people and get practical, grounded advice from them. They don’t like to let people down, and they won’t want you to let them down either. Getting stuck in the “steak-and-potatoes rut” may be symbolic of a less adventurous, “stick in the mud” personality and resistance to change.

Carb Cravers: Without a doubt, carb cravers are those who tend to do too much, which is why they need all that quick energy from carbohydrates. They love throwing themselves in the midst of action and excitement. These folks are stressed and are attempting to balance their brain biochemistry by pumping up their feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. Carb-lovers are missing comfort and sweetness in their lives. Rather than dive into the cushy comfort of carbs, they might want to find other ways to create joy and happiness, like spending time with friends or engaged in hobbies that nourish them.

Sugar Sprinklers: For the sugar-lovers, there is always room for dessert, no matter what, and dinner is the gateway to what they really want – the sweets. Their days are speckled with soft drinks and saccharine snacks. They may be incredibly sweet people, but they may not feel their lives are sweet, which is why they may be trying to take a short cut to sweetness through food. Those sinking in sugar need more happiness and laughter. By encouraging a stimulating, stress-free dinner conversation, they may not feel the need to bury themselves under a blanket of white!

The Salt Shaker: People who add salt to just about anything (even before trying it first!) are really looking for flow and movement in their lives. They want to “shake things up” but they don’t know how. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure in salt-sensitive individuals, causing too much fluid retention. What these people need is to move, dance, and flow into healthier lives.

Although it’s not the absolute path to figuring out the complex nature of one’s being, food choices say volumes about someone’s life – giving insight on their health, social views, emotional state, and approach to living. Indeed, the plate is a small window into the soul!

Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally-recognized lifestyle medicine expert, creative visionary, and author of five books. Her twenty years of experience in the nutrition and functional medicine fields led her to develop an integrated, “whole self” approach to nutrition and detox called Food & Spirit, which is the practice of understanding one’s eating and living through the seven core symbolic themes. Her passion is teaching a whole-self approach to nourishment and bridging the gaps between science, spirituality, and art in medicine. Her new book, Whole Detox, comes out on March 8th. Learn more about the book and Whole Detox program at whole-detox.com. Join her at the conference for her workshop “How to Live a Colorful, Full Spectrum Life Through Yoga and Chakra Nutrition” and free talk “Whole Detox“.

Interview with Kirtan artists Rob and Melissa Lundsgaard

By: Melissa Hagedorn, Conference Founder/Director

For many Seattle yogis, husband and wife team, Rob and Melissa Lundsgaard need no introduction.  They are well known for offering an accessible environment for both kirtan and Bhakti yoga and are regulars at many yoga studios in the area.  We caught up with them to discuss their upcoming album and their participating in the Northwest Yoga Conference.

Can you describe your music style/offerings in 1-2 sentences?
We sing kirtan, a call and response form of group singing, in which we chant the names of the divine. We lead groups in this way, or weave the mantra into asana classes.

RobandMelisaSome of our readers may not be familiar with kirtan.  What is kirtan?
Kirtan is a form of bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion or the way of love, and singing kirtan is a mode of expressing that devotion. We simply come together in a group setting and sing. The music and chanting of the mantra becomes a meditation. There is no set form or way of being, it can be meditative or ecstatic. You can sit or you can dance. It is a celebration and a recognition of the divine in each of us.

Can you give us a little overview of how you both found kirtan and found each other?
We found each other a long time before we discovered kirtan. We met at a wedding on Kitsap Peninsula, and at the time we were both leading very different lives. Our relationship and our devotion to each other developed quickly, leading us toward a similar way of being in our daily and professional lives.

Kirtan found us slowly over time. Our first experience was with Krishna Das, and although we loved it, we never imagined that we’d do it ourselves. But, the seed was planted. Rob wrote a song called ‘Breathe,’ which caught the attention of a yoga teacher, who then asked him to come lead kirtan at her studio. Pretty soon we found ourselves immersed in mantra, chanting, devotion and our undeniable love of kirtan.

RobandMelissaatFestival

You are working on a new album and currently have a fundraising platform going to help raise the necessary funds.  What is an unexpected lesson that you have learned from the process of opening up and asking the community to support you?
Although not an easy feat to run a fundraising campaign, we have been blown away by the support. Not just from the backers who have contributed to the campaign with their dollars, but also the countless people who have shared it with their friends on social media, and even the folks who convinced us to reach out to our community in the first place. Sharing our love of and through the music, mantras and bhakti yoga helps make this project a beautiful exchange. It is an uplifting and inviting way of being and gives us a chance to spread joy, making it accessible to anyone who wants it.

On your new album, you are working with producer Ben Leinbach who has worked with the likes of Deva Premal, Snatam Kaur, Jai Uttal, just to name a few.  What has this process of collaboration been like for you?
Working with Ben has been incredible. He is a magician of sound – quick, fluid and creative, but also a brilliant musician. It’s been an easy, collaborative and fun experience. We look forward to many more collaborations in the future.

What can listeners expect from your new album?
Our first record, ‘Bolo’ was pretty bare bones, just our voices and Rob’s guitar, yet we were really happy with the way it turned out. For this new CD, ‘Tejase,’ we didn’t want to lose the essence of ‘Bolo,’ or the sound that listeners may have come to expect from us, but wanted to add a little more depth to our offerings. ‘Tejase’ definitely has more bells and whistles (literally!), but it is still very much Rob and Melissa, easy to sing along with and great for a yoga class playlist.

RobandMelissaPlayclassYou will be providing live music during two yoga workshops at the Northwest Yoga Conference. How does this enhance the experience for attendees?
Live music in a yoga class adds an entirely new dimension to the practice. These ancient Sanskrit mantras have a life and energy of their own, and our bodies and minds are especially open to healing and transformation when we are on our mats, practicing asana. This opening increases as the class goes on, and the live music pours right through that doorway, even if the practitioner isn’t consciously aware of it.

Rob and Melissa’s new album, “Tejase” will release in the Spring accompanied by a West Coast tour. Tour dates and locations to be announced by the end of the year. Please consider supporting their Kickstarter project which ends in only 4 days!  As an extra incentive, we will be giving away a spot in each of the workshops that they are playing music for at the conference, “Yogic Lore Flow” and “Holy Trio”.  To be eligible, simply support the Kickstarter!

Conference Team Yoga Workshop Picks

By Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn, Conference Founder/Director

Do you remember those days in school when you would receive your class schedule? The next few days were filled with the chatter of comparing schedules. Which classes did you and your bestie have together? Were you able to get into your favorite teacher’s class? And how could you rearrange your schedule to make it the most ideal for you?

Seattle Yogis Choosing Their Yoga Workshops at the Northwest Yoga ConferenceThis is the analogy I think of when picturing conference attendees signing up for their yoga workshops at the conference.  Going through and hand-picking the yoga workshops that call out to them. Comparing schedules with their friends to try and make at least one or two yoga workshops together, mat by mat, friend by friend. Of course, here on the conference team, we enjoy checking in with each other and seeing what each person is excited to take. Take a peek below at the workshops that each of us are looking forward to this year:

Melissa's Yoga WorkshopI love studying with Annie Carpenter and appreciate her dedication to teaching in a style that keeps the body in a safe alignment while keeping the bigger picture of the practice in mind. I am really looking forward to her yoga workshop on backbends as I know it will be full of useful insights into practicing backbends safely! -Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn, Conference Founder/Director

Jill Yoga WorkshopAlthough I love the yoga workshops that deepen and expand my practice of asana, I am most excited this year about those that explore other aspects of yoga. The opportunity to hear Aadil Palkhivala speak on living the eight limbs, make my own mala with healing stones, and explore devotional chanting with Janet Stone … all in one place … is what makes the Yoga Conference such a special experience for me. I can’t wait! – Jill Riveria Greene, Conference Blogger

Torrey Yoga WorkshopThe Northwest Yoga Conference always has such an amazing and wide variety of yoga workshops that it is difficult to choose just one! I am excited to explore new ideas for how to lift-off in Arm Balances 101 with Annie Carpenter, and to learn more about the elements of our hands in Mudras: Expressions of the Hand with Kimi Marin. -Torrey Kaminski, Marketplace Coordinator

Katie Yoga Workshop This is my first year giving my full presence to the Northwest Yoga Conference. I’m so excited to learn, play and grow with all of the master yogis sharing their wisdom with us, but I’m not-so-secretly most excited for Joanna Dunn’s Restorative/Somatic Movement/Pranayama to Soothe the Nervous System to give myself an intentional space to relax, clear my mind and integrate some of the more extroverted yet equally awesome yoga workshops. Self-care is the best! – Katie Vincent, Conference Blogger

Carly Seattle Yoga Workshop With all of the wonderful teachers and genius workshops, it was wonderful agony trying to choose which classes to attend at NWYC! Most of all, I’m looking forward to Sadie Nardini’s “Next-Level Authenticity, Anatomy, and Abundance” all-day intensive. I teach a wide range of yoga styles, and it will be wonderful to hear advice on how to maintain my authentic voice while still delivering what my students need most. – Carly Hayden, Swag Bag Coordinator

Linds Seattle Yoga WorkshopI am really looking forward to Sadie Nardini’s workshop ‘Bust Sabotage and Rock Who You Are’. As a small business owner and creative enthusiast, vulnerability and doubt sometimes cloud my thoughts and can distract me from my core truth. I am excited to learn about Sadie’s techniques in a high energy, yet rooted – soul filled workshop! – Lindsay Baugh, Graphic Design

Julie Seattle Yoga WorkshopWhich to choose? I am definitely excited that Sadie Nardini will be here and am looking forward to taking a yoga workshop with her. But also looking forward to another class with Annie Carpenter and my ‘bestie’ Jill Knouse. But then there are workshops with Naomi Jones and Kimi Marin, who were volunteers with us in the past, so that’s cool to see them on the other side of the conference. And the yoga sutras with Silvia Mordini is always a good topic. So, I don’t know! – Julie DiRusso,  Volunteer Coordinator

For those of you who may find yourself in Julie’s predicament, don’t worry! Just like school, you can change your schedule. Sign up and register for the yoga workshops that call to you right now and check-in at the beginning of the year to see if those choices still resonate with you. If not, go ahead and change it up. Keep in mind, just like school, there are a limited number of spaces in each workshop.

You can view the full conference schedule here.

Our Minds Are Our Gardens: The Power of Intention, with Debbie Dixon

By: Jill Rivera Greene, Conference Blogger

Yoga teacher, author of Over the Rainbow, and intuitive life coach Debbie Dixon is 110d7018ecccaaddd16775d286ab3afa kicking off the conference with a Friday morning workshop on “The Power of Intention.” So it seemed fitting to reach out to Debbie for some tips for how this practice can enhance our conference experience and our lives.

Why is intention such an important practice?

Most of us believe that in yoga the point is to empty the mind, to delete all thoughts and find that peaceful center.

Intention is about understanding that having thoughts isn’t “bad”—it’s just that some of those thoughts are not conducive to what we’re trying to create in our lives. So setting intention is about learning to harness the mind: notice the thoughts that don’t belong there, release those, and replace them with the thoughts you wish to have.

A lot of the beliefs we have buried in our bodies are not ours. They were gifted to us from other people (parents, teachers) and situations that occurred when we were too young to control the outcomes of our lives. These beliefs surfaced to protect us at one time, but we no longer need them.

Our minds are our gardens, and we need to tend our gardens. What beliefs are there that no longer serve us? What new beliefs do we wish to plant?

How do you practice intention in your life, and what changes have you seen as a result of this practice?

I do this before everything that I do. So for example, before this conversation, I decided what I wanted the outcome to be. I said to myself, “I hope this goes well. I hope she’s informed and has enough information to inspire people.” I got clear about that, and then I knew how to prepare.

I love this idea, but I struggle with making it a habit.

It takes some work. I started implementing the practice of intention very simply. I did it in group settings a lot at first, so there were people around to keep me focused. It’s hard to stay stuck in old patterns if you’re around other people who are committed to thinking differently.

Next I started just waking up with a general intention. “Today is going to flow effortlessly, with ease and grace.” Or an intention around a specific event: “I’m going to teach three classes, and at the end of each one, people will walk away feeling great.”

When you’re setting your intention, the power lies not so much in the words, but in what those words feel like. Connect with that sensation, and breathe it into your body before you even get out of bed. Really ground in that feeling within the body.

Today I use intention as a constant practice. As often as I can, I stop, take a conscious breath, and set my intention. When you start to do this regularly—setting an intention, seeing how it works out—you will begin to see the synchronicities. You will realize that we truly are “intending” our lives, every minute. So instead of going through life thinking, “I hope this [bad thing] doesn’t happen,” we start to think, “What if it all works out beyond my wildest dreams?” In my own life this has been so amazing, watching the outcomes.

If the results are as good as you say, why do I feel some resistance to this?

There may be beliefs in you like, “I’m not good enough.” When I tell you to believe the opposite, that old belief is so powerful that you almost feel like you’re lying to yourself. That’s why it’s so important to tend to the garden. You have to find those beliefs, the “weeds” that are holding you back. You have to connect with believing that you deserve, so that you can open yourself up to receive.

Some of us have spent our entire lives feeding thoughts that are negative because it’s a safer place to be. The more something matters to us, the more passionate we are about it, the scarier it is to set that positive intention. It takes courage not to let ourselves be diminished.

Do you have a suggestion for how attendees might approach setting an intention for their conference experience?

On a really basic level, you can set an intention for the conference as a whole. What do you want, what are you lacking? It could be as simple as a greater sense of health and ad832a9ef6d99a17e0e35ac7a9a2f2a1well-being. If you’re a teacher or a yoga studio owner, maybe you’re hoping for inspiration, people to fill your studio, a sense of community. Or there might be something you’re struggling with in your life, and you’re looking for ways to balance and open up to divine healing.

Whatever it is, you want to align your intention for your conference experience with what’s happening in your life. What results would you like to see?

You can also do this before each workshop. Say to yourself, “At the end of this workshop, here’s how I want to feel. Here’s what I want to receive.” For example: “I can’t wait to leave feeling energized and happy that I spent this time wisely.”

For those who want to dive a little deeper into this practice, what can attendees expect from your Friday morning workshop?

We will talk about how to set intentions and how to infuse them with power, so you really do gain back control of your life. We will do some meditation to dig up and clear out old beliefs, so that you can replace them with whatever you decide. I will give people step-by-step tools to use at any point during the day.

Faith is really important when setting your intention. Your goal is to get to 100 percent faith, but often this builds up gradually. It can’t be forced, because when we force, there’s that resistance. Instead, there’s a gentle way of asking, with love, and learning at the same time to accept yourself wherever you are in the journey.

Love yourself exactly where you are, and then ask yourself: What’s the next step in my journey? How can I most lovingly get there?

Get Ready …

By: Jill Rivera Greene, Conference Blogger

The conference is just one short week away! It’s never too soon to start packing your bag. We’ve put together a list of suggested items to bring, to get the most out of your conference experience.

Earth to Ethers will be offering mats and bolsters, as well as their unique Lotus Wrap, in the Mindful Marketplace.

Earth to Ethers will be offering mats and bolsters, as well as their unique Lotus Wrap, in the Mindful Marketplace.

Yoga mat and props. This might seem obvious. But if you’re used to practicing at a studio where all props are provided, remember that there is no “prop closet” at the conference. Bring whatever you’ll need to keep you comfortable and supported as you practice. (Suggested props for each workshop are listed at the bottom of the workshop description.)

Water bottle. We will have complimentary water and hot tea available for you throughout the conference. Pack an eco-friendly water bottle to make it easy to fill up on your way to the next workshop.

Mishu Boutique will feature comfy layers with a stylish edge in the Mindful Marketplace.

Mishu Boutique will feature comfy layers with a stylish edge in the Mindful Marketplace.

Comfortable, layered clothes. The Convention Center is a large space. We will make every effort to keep the rooms comfortable, but temperatures will vary. Dress in layers that will be easy to shed during a vigorous asana session and put back on for savasana or meditation.

Journal. With so many insightful teachers and workshops, you’re going to want a journal handy to capture all that you’re learning!

Stop by the Mindful Marketplace to check out beautiful malas like this one from local vendor Bicycling Buddha.

Stop by the Mindful Marketplace to check out beautiful malas like this one from local vendor Bicycling Buddha.

Mala

Bring a favorite mala for meditation workshops or just to take a moment to yourself between sessions in our meditation room.

Spending Money (for food and marketplace).  The Namaste Café will be open from 11:00am-3:00pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday offering espresso, snacks, and lunch.  The café offers gluten-free and vegan options.

Most importantly, bring an open heart and your sense of adventure! Be sure to check out the blog next week for some thoughts on “getting set”–setting your own intention for the conference.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Newcomers Welcome!

By: Jill Rivera Greene, Conference Blogger

Me as a beginning yogi ... as always, wondering whether I'm doing this right!

Me as a beginning yogi … as always, wondering whether I’m doing this right!

The week before I started my first Intro to Yoga class, a cartoon was circulating on Facebook. It showed a group of yogis bending gracefully in deep Uttanasana. Right in the middle of the room was the Tin Man, standing straight up, stiff arms reaching toward the front of the room, with a thought bubble: “This is bull$hit.”

I was sure that was going to be me—standing out like a grumpy sore thumb, with my tight hamstrings and an understanding of Sanskrit that didn’t extend beyond “Namaste.” I felt the fear … and showed up anyway. At my first studio, I was blessed to encounter teachers who convinced me that Yoga is as much for me, with my hunched-over-the-laptop posture and tight hamstrings, as it is for anyone else. That introductory class turned out to be the beginning of an absolute love affair with the practice and philosophy of Yoga.

If you are relatively new to Yoga, like I am, you might think that a weekend-long conference is not for you—that you’re “not ready yet.” I couldn’t disagree more! Here are a few reasons why I think the conference is the perfect place for beginning yogis:

  • Build your community—Meet other local yogis in a fun, friendly environment. The conference schedule offers plenty of “down time” to foster new-found friendships.
  • Find resources to support your practice—The Marketplace and Share Your Yoga table are great places to learn about local vendors, studios, retreats, and workshops.
  • Discover new aspects of Yoga—There’s so much more to Yoga than the poses. Give your body a rest in workshops on Ayurveda, pranayama, mantras, sutras, chanting, and meditation.
  • Expand your practice—If you feel like you’re always doing the same type of class, here’s your chance to try something new: Thai Yoga, Yin, or bodysensing, to name just a few. I guarantee you won’t be the only one feeling like a beginner in workshops like AcroYoga!
  • Explore different teachers—Maybe you’re not up for a teacher training or intensive retreat just yet. All the more reason to take advantage of this opportunity to sample workshops from a number of highly respected teachers from the Seattle area and beyond.

To make sure that newcomers get the most out of their experience, Conference Director Melissa Hagedorn will be hosting a special gathering just for us. Look for more information at the Registration Desk, and join Melissa during the first break on Friday, from 11:15 to 11:45, for a special “Thank you for coming,” insider tips, and answers to any questions you might have.

So please, join me at this year’s conference! And when you see me, be sure to say hello. I’ll be one with the tight hamstrings.